Area XC runners among huge field at Watson Classic

Published 12:30 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The high school cross-country schedule is narrowing down towards the finish line of the upcoming post-season. On Saturday, the cross-country program at Mississippi College hosted its annual Waston Cross-Country Classic, one of the largest events run in the state every year. Here’s a look at how local student-athletes faired in the large field.

Brookhaven High Girls

Coming off a school record run last week at the Jesse Owens Classic, Brookhaven High freshman Isabella Iles was again the lead Panther in the pack on Saturday as she finished third overall in the Silver Division of the Watson Classic, a field that featured 189 runners.

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Last week in Oakdale, Alabama at the Jesse Owens Classic, Iles ran the fastest time for any girl in BHS history, finishing the 5K course in a time of 20:18, which was good enough for 10th overall as her division had 282 competitors.

On Saturday, E.D. White, a Catholic school from Thibodaux, Louisiana finished first overall and Brookhaven’s longtime rivals from Saltillo High finished second, ahead of the Panthers in third place.

For many years now, either Saltillo or Brookhaven has won the 5A state championship in girls and boys cross-country, but with new classifications this year as the MHSAA added a 7A class, Saltillo moved up to 6A while Ole Brook remained a 5A program.

Emmie Ritchie of E.D. White was the first overall finisher with a time of 20:07 in the Silver Division at the Watson Classic.

Junior Annabelle Summers finished ninth overall in the race for BHS on Saturday with a time of 21:40. A week prior in Alabama, Summers had a personal best time of 21:30. Junior Natalie McKinney finished 22nd for BHS with a time of 22:12. Junior Ella Thompson finished 32nd overall with a time of 22:45 and freshman Abby Slay ran a time of 27:03 for BHS.

The next race for both the girls’ and boys’ varsity teams at BHS will be a MHSAA 5A Regional race on Thursday, Oct. 26. Both teams will be favorites in a field that will consist of other Region 3-5A schools Florence, Natchez, North Pike, Provine and South Jones.

Brookhaven High Boys

The BHS boys’ team also competed in the Silver Division on Saturday, which had 327 runners in that race and was won by Pearl High School. West Monroe and Ruston High, two of the many Louisiana schools at the event, finished in second and third place respectively.  Landon Spears of West Monroe was the overall winner with a time of 16 minutes, 27 seconds.

Coming in fourth overall in the team division were the Panthers, led by freshman Isaac Iles with a time of 17:16 on the 5K course, which was good enough for 10th place overall.

That time was a personal best for Iles, who also ran strong a week before in a gigantic field at the Jesse Owens Classic in Oakville, Alabama. Iles posted a 17:29 at the Owens Classic, which was good enough for 25th overall that day in a race that had 390 runners.

The second runner across the line for Brookhaven on Saturday at the Watson race held at Choctaw Trails was freshman Cooper Wallace (17:52). Wallace was competing for the first time since early September due to illness and ran a personal best to finish in 23rd place.

Ian Iles finished in 25th place for the Panthers with a time of 17:55. A freshman, Iles also had a personal best in the Owens Classic last week, finishing 25th in that race also with a time of 17:29.

Junior Bram Wolfe finished 42nd for BHS with a time of 18:17 and was followed by freshman Coleman Knott at 18:24. Knott also ran a personal best time in Alabama as he finished 49th overall there with a time of 17:33 last week.

Sophomore Isaac Stovall also had a PR worthy race on Saturday as his 19:08 put him in 74th place overall. Junior Charlie Adams finished 101st in the race with a time of 19:40. Adams had a personal best time of 19:23 last weekend at the Owens Classic.

Junior Braden Johnson ran a personal best time of 20:22 on Saturday, to finish in 138th place. Other runners for BHS included sophomore Asher Stringer (21:13), freshman Karr Wolfe (21:17, PR), freshman Asa Thomas (22:23), freshman Jackson Greer (22:47) and junior Jackson Wallace (26:50).

Loyd Star Boys

The Blue Division at the Watson Classic featured a field of 173 male runners on Saturday at Choctaw Trails and the local contingent in that race was led by Loyd Star junior Gauge Montgomery, with a time of 18 minutes and 23 seconds.

Sophomore Joseph Ross of Saint Patrick Catholic finished first overall in the race with a time of 16:53. St. Patrick also won the team competition while Loyd Star came in 8th overall out a mix of 16 schools, some public and some private and some from Louisiana.

Eighth-grader Carson Sellers ran a personal best time of 19:48 as he was the second Loyd Star Hornet to cross the finish line and the 30th overall finisher. Other runners for Loyd Star coach Russell Cruise included sophomore Cooper Creel (21:33), sophomore Jamisyn Kelly (21:41), eighth-grader Mason Eady (24:13), freshman Parker Satterfield (24:37), freshman Riley Friloux (25:47), freshman Brennon Reid (26:18) and seventh-grader Memphis Falvey (26:23).

Montgomery was the second-place finisher last year at the MHSAA 2A State Championship Meet.  He started the 2023 season off by winning the Ole Brook Invitational at the Hansel King Sports Complex. Since then, Montgomery has won three races in the JPS Challenge Series. His best time of the season was a 17:26 at Choctaw Trails in another huge event, The Opener hosted by Mississippi College.

He’ll be one of the favorites when Loyd Star runs at Choctaw Trails in its regional on Thursday, Oct. 26. On that day, the Hornets will compete against Region 7-2A foes West Lincoln, Wilkinson County and Heidelberg.

Wesson Boys

Senior Preston Selman of Wesson was the second runner from the area to cross the finish line in the Blue Division race on Saturday. Selman ran a season best time of 19:39, which was good enough for 28th place.

Wesson senior Aidan Brice ran a personal best to finish 33rd with a time of 19:51. Eighth-grader Grady Smith also set a personal best for Wesson coach Vance Windom with a time of 21:23.

Other competitors from Wesson, which finished 11th in the team competition, included sophomore Brendon Duguid (23:20), seventh-grader Walker Breazeale (23:39), eighth-grader Slade Oberschmidt (24:01), eight-grader Canderous White (25:00), seventh-grader Brody Ponder (25:05), sophomore Nic Raiford (26:25), senior Quention Jackson (27:09), seventh-grader Collin Watts (28:47), seventh-grader Grant Hynum (29:01), seventh-grader Leyton Ainsworth (29:35) and seventh-grader Chastin Wilson (29:42).

Wesson Girls

Seventh-grader Kennedi Johnson was the top finisher for Wesson in the Blue Division race with a personal best time of 23:34, which earned her 29th place in a field of 132 runners.

Other competitors for Wesson included eighth graded Eden Hall (25:51), junior Ella Logan (25:52), sophomore Macy Loy (28:28), seventh-grader Jayden Allen (29:03), freshman Bentley Roberson (29:14), eighth-grader Ally Selman (29:46), junior Courtney Carr (29:51), senior Makenze Martin (29:56), senior Stevie Westrope (30:16), sophomore Alana Hux (31:18), seventh-grader Anne Peets (32:16) and seventh-grader Sarah Logan (32:35).

Junior High Boys and Girls

The junior high season will conclude on Tuesday, with the annual MHSAA Middle School Classic at Choctaw Trails, so the Watson Classic was one more chance for those running in it to get out on the course for a 3,000-meter race that featured only seventh- and eighth-graders. Many of those athletes will move up after the junior high season and continue to run in the postseason with their respective varsity teams.

The top junior high boy finisher in the 3K from Brookhaven was eighth-grader Landon Newman with a time of 10:55, which earned him eighth place in a field of 209 runners. As a team, the runners from Alexander Junior High, running under the Brookhaven High banner, finished third in the team competition for the boys’ event behind Pearl and Clinton.

Eighth-grader Brooklyn Lee was the 14th overall finisher and the second runner from Brookhaven to cross the line in 11:06. Both Newman and Lee broke their personal best times on the day.

Other competitors for Ole Brook included eighth-grader Jeremiah Henning (11:56), eighth-grader Kagan Lopez (12:08), seventh-grader Maurice Wilson (12:10), eighth-grader Cayden Lee (12:57) and seventh-grader Malakai Huffman (15:33).

In the girls’ race, eighth-grader Lucy Spicer was the first runner from Brookhaven to finish with a time of 13:33, which earned her 21st place in a field with 155 competitors. Other runners from Ole Brook included eighth-graders Brooklyn Lenior (14:15), Breelyn Smith (14:38), Brooklyn Smith (14:50) and Ivy Thomas (18:11).